By MICHAEL REED on 10/22/12

Spoilers for Homeland follow through last night’s “New Car Smell.” 

To exist on the Internet, you must at some point be associated with a non-football fantasy league 1, a bracket-based inquiry into pop culture “greatness” that simultaneously angers yet also excites Chuck Klosterman, or power rankings for a high-end television show. Since Game of Thrones is sadly not back until March 2013 2 and Klosterman is too distracted sending his whiteness midicholrian levels to unfathomable highs to regulate pop culture Brackettville, Homeland Arbitrary Character Power Rankings! follow. These rankings are based on nothing, so go wild, nihilists.

1. Carrie Mathison

Code Name: Buckcherry

For once, it was a good day to be Carrie Mathison. She gets an apology from Estes, who texted her “Hey girl…my bad-hope we can still b friends and get da job done. U still up? ” (Editor’s note-may be paraphrased). If there is one thing Carrie likes, in addition to jazz and roomy back row seating, it’s a good stop and chat, especially when illegal surveillance/stalking is involved. It’s unclear whether she enjoys it as much when the choreographed stop and chat is done when part of legal surveillance, but she’ll take it if it helps her catch the bad guys, who in this case is her former soul mate/terrorist agent Brody. In addition, she met a potential new parking lot buddy in Congressman Brody Surveillance Czar Peter Quinn. Like any normal person would, Carrie has her bff, the gregarious private sector surveillance expert Virgil, investigate Quinn to see whether he is “weekend at the cabin while picking fights with Neo Nazis” material (or maybe for a purpose that relates to national security).

The last scene, where Carrie lays down the gauntlet on Brody, was incredible, and elevated an otherwise procedural episode into the stratosphere. Even if Carrie’s decision to disregard orders and take Brody now prove to be disastrous (and they certainly could), she knew what she wanted, and that was an unconditional victory over Brody, and unconditional it was.

Carrie: “Who wants to be friends with a demented ex soldier who hates America?

BOOM.  EAT YOUR HEART OUT BRODY.

Brody: “I liked you, Carrie.”

Carrie: “I LOVED YOU”

Great CGI work on Danes’ eyeballs on that line, tastefully done.

Carrie (as Brody gets handcuffed): “You disgraced your nation, Sgt. Nicholas Brody: You’re a traitor and a terrorist and now it’s time that you pay for that.”  (Drops mic)

2. Nicholas Brody

Code Name: Better Call Saul

No conversation that mentions that you only have a few minutes before the CIA comes in to arrest you/take you away while hooded can end well.  Not a good day for Congressman Brody! First, his wife gives him the boot-Jessica knows SOMETHING is up and doesn’t want to hire JJ Gittes to figure out what something is, so Brody packs a bag. His daughter then points out that his car smells like cigarettes, which would be embarrassing in most situations, but probably even more so when it comes from your daughter. Then he realizes Carrie is back at the CIA, which is a concerning development for him. He then tells his fellow Abu Nazir groupie that he may need to take his vacation days from Al Qaeda a few weeks early and get out of town, maybe to Amsterdam, because he definitely does not want to spend them in Guantanamo. His coworker however gets all “always be networking” and encourages him to get back at it with Carrie or at least flirt with her on LinkedIn, so no Amsterdam. He then decides to “bury the hatchet” with Carrie at the hotel bar, which goes well until Carrie comes up to his hotel room and Chris Hansen the CIA shows up. Brody’s bad day ends with a black bag over his head, where he will presumably learn that the worst thing about prison is not the dementors.

3. Peter Quinn

Code Name: SnarkDawg

Most people when they meet Carrie are naturally put back on their heels. Peter Quinn is not one of those people. He spits game at her, both professionally and presumably romantically, like a CIA version of Roger Sterling (he notes that Carrie got her “brain zapped”) and also shows a Larry David-esque willingness to entertain personal questions.

Quinn is the Jedi Master of the Lester Freamon memorial surveillance room*, and hopefully will provide much needed uber sarcasm to the tense future episodes.

* If Carrie Mathison worked in Baltimore’s Major Crimes Unit, then Avon, Stringer, and Marlo would have roamed Baltimore until the end of time, because McNulty, Bunk, Lester, Kima and everyone else would have been jousting for overtime with Carrie. As my friend noted, Carrie Mathison however would have just gone right for Stringer without missing a beat.

4. David Estes

Code Name: Henry Clay

After spending the entire last season repping the Vice President’s crew over the CIA crew, David Estes finally became real last night, realizing that his beloved career would probably be done in by Brody but that he still needed to catch Brody anyway. And his backyard looks to be a nice place to have a conversation about catching a terrorist US Congressman.

5. Saul Berenson

Code Name: Coach K

Saul sadly did not wear an awesome hat this episode.

In other news, Saul did growl “Step the fuck away from her” as Brody stepped to Carrie. His expression was one of pure anger, and looked identical to Coach K’s look when a ref has called a block on a Duke defender.

6. Dana

Code Name: Avril

 Dana: “I can’t do this.”

Finn: “Yes you can. I’m the Vice President’s son, and I just took you to the closed-for renovations Washington Monument, and this means I can’t go here later this week to play paintball with my friends, so I should at least get a make out.”

 Dana: “You’re meaner than Xander.”

 Finn: “I know-I’m from the other side of the tracks, assuming the tracks are paid for by successful government defense contractors. Also Xander is the worst name ever. I win.”

 Dana: “I like you though.”

 Finn: “I like you too. Did you know Linkin Park played at my birthday party? God I’m awesome.”

 Dana: “Would you like me even if my Dad tried to blow your Dad up?”

 *Laughs*

  1. Preferably a non-sports league altogether like “Game of Thrones Nudity Fantasy League!”
  2. WINTER WILL STILL COME PEOPLE, KEEP CALM AND HODOR ON.